Sunday, 14 June 2009

Oyster catching

Oh dear.

Having spent 10 minutes or so explaining to his pirogue-bound audience the pressures on mangroves in the Saloum Delta and how communities are no longer allowed to cut branches in protected areas because the trees are disappearing faster than they can rejuvenate ( i like to bang on about this - there is a post about it a while ago), this tour guide proceded to hack off a couple of oyster laden branches for a barbecue on the beach. Not wanting to make a scene in front of the other people in the boat, I couldn't let this pass, so I asked as quietly as I could (above the outboard motor, so not actually very quietly at all) why he was allowed to cut these branches for tourists, when villagers are not allowed to do this themselves - park rules state that they are allowed to hack the oysters with machetes, but this is a messy job, done by local women, which involves standing in chest high water for hours on end. A bit flumoxed, he replied that this was just a couple of branches, so it was OK... Except of course that there are groups going out most days and if people see the toubabs doing this, why on earth should they continue to refrain from it themselves?

And to top it off they oysters were tiny, a long way off from mature. That will teach me to go on a busman's holiday.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Spaghetti Worm

You can see what they've done there.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Not much 'Sene' in the Seneblog

If I have any readers left, let me explain...

Since the last post, I have been to Guinea Bissau (twice), Hong Kong, Vietnam, UK, Spain, Togo and South Africa. Any suggestions about what on earth I am going to do about my deplorable carbon footprint gratefully received. I've been through Dakar inbetween (that's where I am now, but only for another 13 hours) , but I missed Korite and Tabaski and all the colour and hustle and bustle that religious holidays bring. Government put restrictions on sheep locations this year too, so rather than finding a mouton on every corner, sheep shopping was only allowed in stadiums and other designated areas. Since last year we have moved house to a significantly fancier area, so I did at least get to witness the site where the shiniest, gigantesque rams in town are displayed (I am told the biggest monsters - easily mistakable for a small cow - go for up to £1000 - could this be true?).

Here are some of the sights I've been privileged to see in the past few months:

Sugar transportation across the Somone Lagoon, Senegal

Sunset in Orango, Bijagos Archipelago, Guinea Bissau

Palm wine production in Ilha de Jeta, Guinea Bissau. I wouldn't recommend too high an intake of this stuff, but in certain situations, the visitor really doesn't have any choice in the matter. No right to refusal.

Entertainment in Bubaque, Bijagos Archipelago. There's a competing picturehouse across the road, and come sunset customers spill onto the street.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Multi-wife management

In any conversation about Senegalese culture, polygamy is pretty much top of the list. Not only is it arguably the most difficult aspect of life for westerners to really get their heads around, but it is increasingly the source of heated, if both good natured and light hearted, debate amongst the Dakarois.

A friend of mine has 3 wives. He is the first to acknowledge that his life is extraordinarily complicated. Recently his second wife was all wrong with her timing and managed to give birth to his fifth child while he was on rotation with wife 3. They were sound asleep when the phone rang at 3am to announce the happy event. Wife no. 3's reaction? 'This woman is making my life a misery - she won't even let me get a full night's sleep now!'

As he says, complicated.

Sunday, 3 August 2008


The trash that you notice as a new arrival in Dakar, much like many other highly populated cities in the developing world, tends to fade into the background and become commonplace after a while. Every now and again, perhaps with the rain and the related odours it brings, the piles of rubbish appear once again in sharper relief. I suppose this has to be a good thing, since the minute we all stop noticing, any chance of making things better goes out of the window.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Hefty Interval

There is plenty of debate about how many dead blogs there are littering the world wide web - noone really knows - but having surpassed even my own miserable prediction of giving up this blogging business within 6 months, I have decided to try for resuscitation. A friend of mine who has been writing a blog that I really loved about life in these parts just left for pastures new, and she has inspired to get started again.

Here are a couple of snaps from Sierra Leone earlier this year. A Green Turtle had become stranded on Lumley Beach in Freetown. Construction is slowly swallowing up the breeding sites, meaning that these beautiful creatures ending up trying to lay their eggs in the middle of busy tourist beaches, as these are often the only clear stretches of sand left. This one was a heavy specimen, but a young chap made light work of flipping it on its back (cue: unimpressed reptile) and then safely placing her back down in the water.

The other is from a remote island in the South called Chepo, where lack of refrigeration means that fish are still preserved through smoking in (bloody hot!) straw huts.

Saturday, 16 June 2007


I've been a bit slack lately so here are some pictures...

The first is of Goree Island, a few minutes on the ferry over from Dakar but seems like a million miles away. beautiful colonial buildings, bougainvillea, the beach... oh and a fairly sinister history as a jump off point for slaving ships. A really interesting place, with a monument to emancipation and an interesting museum (apparently - it's been too busy to get in both times I have been) and now a firm stop over on the Roots Tour. It was referred to the other night by the Minister of Something or Other in his speech at the Queen's Birthday Party at the British Embassy. Having accidentally managed to insult a couple of important people present (he was trying to give compliments, but they just didn't come out right, poor feller) he then made reference to being on British soil in the heart of Senegal, but of course, that's not the first time we British have been here, since we did have Goree for a bit and directed the slave trade from there... Anyway, God Save the Queen!

This next one is of some lads net fishing in Aberdeen Creek just outside of Freetown on the Sierra Leone Estuary. It might look a bit grey, but the creek is full of fish and attracts all sorts of waterbirds, but it's under threat from the encroaching growing city and planned projects for hotels and the like. Wonder what it will be like in a few years time...

i've put some new pictures up on my flickr account if you fancy procrastinating a bit before starting work...